It was as she was bathing the twins, trying to get what looked like years of dirt off of them while they bashed each other with soap and washclothes and drenched Samantha, that Mike stood in the doorway and watched her. The boys were so much alike, as Mike said, down to moles and birthmarks.
“How are Kane and I different?”
“Michael Taggert, if you’re fishing for compliments—” She broke off as she dodged a bar of soap flying through the air.
“Maybe I am, but wouldn’t you be curious if all your life people had told you that you were identical to another person, then someone told you that you weren’t even similar? How are we different?”
“He’s smaller than you for one thing. And the expression in his eyes is different. You’re…you’re a nicer person than he is. Softer.”
“Maybe when I look at you my eyes are different.”
“Maybe.” She turned toward him. “But your eyelashes are definitely longer. And curlier.”
At that Mike laughed. “Curlier?”
Embarrassed, she turned away. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. You are not like your brother. Not like him at all.” Mike seemed to be satisfied with that as he left the bathroom, which was rapidly resembling a place that should apply for national relief.
After the boys were bathed and at long last in bed, she and Mike went to bed—together, in his bed. Samantha was very tired and would have thought she could expend no more energy during the day, but she walked out of the bathroom wearing her white nightgown and took one look at Mike’s eyes, and they were on each other ravenously, tearing at clothes and skin, mouths and hands everywhere.
It was an hour later that they lay side by side, sated, Sam’s head on Mike’s shoulder, his arms around her.
“This is all so new to me,” Samantha said. “I mean, I’ve done this…Sort of.” She laughed. “Mike, the difference between sex with you and sex with my ex-husband is, as Mark Twain says, the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. I had no idea sex could be enjoyable, fun, and so very…fulfilling.”
Mike said nothing.
Idly, she ran her fingers over the hair on his chest. “I guess you’ve done this a thousand times with a thousand different women. I guess this is nothing…unusual for you.”
“Sam, when I was fourteen my father gave me the first of many talks about using protection during sex. He talked to me about sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Since then, every time I’ve gone to bed with a woman I’ve used protection, a thin little membrane that separated me from her. I’ve used it even if she said she was on the Pill or whatever. I’d rather be safe than sorry. Until last night I’d never been, I guess you could say, skin to skin with a woman before. Maybe you could even go so far as to say that I was a virgin until last night.”
She was hesitant. “Was it better? Without, I mean?”
“Much better. Much, much, much better. Never experienced anything like it. Had no idea sex could be so good.”
Holding up his hand, she looked at it, comparing it in size to her own, caressing his fingertips with hers. “So now I guess, well, later, with other women you won’t use any protection. You’ll always want to be…skin to skin.”
Her fingers laced with his and tightened. She could not let herself think of life without Mike, of Mike being with another woman.
“But then, Sam,” he said very softly, “I think the buck stops here.”
She was afraid to ask what he meant, but his words made her heart beat faster. Then, abruptly, she turned toward him. “Michael! If you’re not using any birth control, I could get pregnant!”
“Really?” He sounded as though he were unconcerned about the possibility of pregnancy, then just slightly, his hand tightened on hers. “Would you mind?”
She ignored his second question. “I think this is extremely irresponsible of you. You should have used something.”
“Me? Why not you?”
“I would have, but that first time you didn’t exactly give me time to think, and besides, I was a little too tipsy to think clearly.”
He grinned down at her. “Know what the mating call of the southern belle is? Ooooh, I’m soooo drunk.”
“I’ll get you for that,” she said as she jumped on him, trying to tickle him, her nightgown wrapping around both of them.
But they were interrupted by two very clean little boys standing by the bed and staring at them. There was no need for the children to say anything because what they were feeling was in their eyes: They were away from home and their dad and they wanted reassurance. Neither Sam or Mike hesitated as they pulled the boys into bed with them. The children snuggled together like the two halves of an egg that they were between Mike and Sam and went to sleep instantly.
Samantha had an idea that sleeping with children cuddled close was nothing new to Mike, but it was to her, and the feeling called to something deep within her.